While it's been nearly 70 years since the last issue of EC Comics was published, its hair-raising morality tales are more timely now than ever before, and its enduring legacy still resonates with countless creators influenced by EC's relentlessly bold and macabre storytelling. So it was an especially thrilling and chilling day for so many fans this past February when it was announced that Oni Press has partnered with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. to resurrect EC Comics with new titles this summer!

Ahead of the July 24th release of the horror-filled Epitaphs from the Abyss #1 and the August 7th debut of the sci-fi and cosmic-centric terror of Cruel Universe #1, Daily Dead had the great pleasure of catching up with Oni Press President and Publisher Hunter Gorinson and Oni Press Editor-in-Chief Sierra Hahn for an extensive and insightful discussion about how Oni Press has resurrected EC Comics, including how the exciting opportunity came about, assembling the creative teams for these ambitious anthologies, paying homage to the past of EC Comics while also doing something new with Epitaphs from the Abyss and Cruel Universe, as well as what the future holds for the continued expansion of the new EC Comics in the years to come!

You can read our full interview with Hunter and Sierra below, keep an eye on Oni Press' website for more details, and we also have a look at the cover art for Cruel Universe #1 and Epitaphs from the Abyss #1 and #2!

You really shook the comic book world in a good way this year with this groundbreaking announcement that you were going to resurrect EC Comics after nearly 70 years. How did this opportunity come about? This is like working with horror royalty. You struck gold in such a big way, and so many people are excited for EC Comics to come back in July with Epitaphs from the Abyss.

Hunter Gorinson: Sierra and I have both worked for multiple publishers over the years, and about 18 months ago or so, I started as the publisher of Oni Press. Sierra joined me incredibly shortly thereafter, and I had the good fortune to meet Cathy Mifsud and Corey Mifsud, who are William M. Gaines', the legendary editor-in-chief and publisher of EC Comics from its heyday, his daughter and grandson, respectively. So the minute I sat down in the chair at Oni, I got to thinking about scratching an itch that I've long had and now potentially had the ability to help realize into two dimensions, which was, "Could EC Comics come back for the 21st century?"

The disappearance of EC and everything that happened around it has always been one of those big question marks and pregnant pauses in comics history, a big "what if?" if you will. What would've happened if EC had continued onward? Obviously, it continued to have a pervasive influence over all of pop culture even once it stopped coming out. But given everything that's happening in American and global society these days and the trend lines that we're looking at in comic book publishing respectively, too, it felt like the answer to a lot of the questions we were asking ourselves was EC Comics and sacred territory—a big job to be sure, but one that I think Sierra and I both got really, really excited about and fortunately, the Gaines family, our partners on the project, were willing to meet our enthusiasm for it.

Yeah, it's awesome that you're able to make that happen because we've been waiting decades for this to be dusted off, and with EC Comics, you think of morality tales, you think of comeuppance, and there's so much you can do with these types of stories now. Are you looking forward to balancing modern-day storytelling with that vintage EC Comic style? Is that something that you're both conscious of bringing into the new millennium?

Hunter Gorinson: Yeah, Sierra is up to her eyeballs right now in the stories that are going to go into Epitaphs from the Abyss and Cruel Universe. The only thing I would say on that front is we've had a lot of conversations about how you balance essentially what is the core tenants of what makes an EC story work, what is that EC tone and intensity, without making this a slavish nostalgia exercise? Because I think that's the boring, lackluster version of this, is where we try to just go right back to 1954 and do exactly what they were doing. That won't work, obviously, but there is a power and intensity at the core of the way that EC told stories that we think can be transposed and brought into 2024. So that's kind of the mission.

Sierra Hahn: There was a formula, which you touched on Derek, to those tales that really made an impact on his audience. So utilizing that, that sort of just desserts is what we often talk about when we're talking to the writers or we're talking with the illustrators. What is that twist? What's the morality part? But when we talk about morality, we're still creating stories that are entertaining, are fun, or may make you sit back in your seat or you might lean forward and you might have a darkly rich chuckle, depending on what's happening on the page. So above all else, it's still entertaining, but there are those moments peppered throughout each story that make you think about the world, make you think about your circumstances, make you think about your relationships in a new way perhaps. That's not meant to sound pretentious by any means. It's just trying to tap into what made that time in those comics so unique and so special. How do we bring that forward into today's society, today's audience, and to the sensibility of the writers and artists that we're working with?

You have an amazing roster of writers and artists that you're working with right out the gate. I have a feeling the Rolodex that you had at Oni Press was probably nice to tap into just for people you had worked with on other titles. Each of them has such a unique style, whether it's artistic, storytelling, or both. You've really brought together an all-star cast here in this first issue of Epitaphs from the Abyss.

Sierra Hahn: Yeah, we've been so lucky. The EC name runs through the entirety of this industry and beyond, and different media, different mediums, so we went into it knowing there were a number of people that we wanted to bring into it who we thought their sensibility really makes sense and that we knew were fans of this material. But it also opened the door for people we've never worked with. I've been doing this for almost 20 years, and now I'm meeting people who are industry veterans who I've never had an opportunity to work with, who are hitting me and Hunter up or hitting up other people at Oni and are like, "How can we be involved? How can we help? How can we make sure that this makes an impact and it lasts, because this means something to me personally?" So it was really special and really surprising for me. I think I didn't fully appreciate, at the time, just how influential this has been on artists through multiple generations of storytellers. It's been a little of both of those things of intention and having people sort of come in and give shape to it as well.

Hunter Gorinson: And part of the moment when I realized that we were onto something, obviously I'm a dyed in the wool, diehard EC fan to the core, but we're doing some unorthodox things. We're not relaunching Tales from the Crypt and Weird Science, so part of the fun of this was calling creators before any of this was public and saying, "Hey, crazy thing. What if we brought EC Comics back?" They kind of go like, "Cool, I have questions. Is it Tales from the Crypt, or what are we doing?" And you say, "No, we're going to do an entirely new line of titles with a different mandate, but we're going to push it to 11. We're going to do some crazy stuff." You could watch them lean in a little bit and say, "Tell me more." It was at that moment that I knew maybe we had some raw power that we were dealing with. I'm hopeful that whether you're a diehard EC fan like me or a big horror fan or science fiction fan who's never read an EC Comic before, that hopefully those folks feel the same way when they get one of these books in their hands.

No matter what we do, the new stories are going to get compared to the original canon of EC stuff, which is kind of like being like, "Hey, how does your new movie stack up against Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho?" So that's part of the reason we're so emboldened to do our own thing instead of a direct pastiche of what came before. But hopefully, you'll see that these books exist in a clear lineage and in conversation and certainly in the shadow of, and in honor of, the original EC books that came before.

So I look at this kind of curated line of EC books as not just a love letter to EC Comics, but almost like a love letter to comics in general, because the story of EC also goes all the way back to William Gaines' father, Max Gaines. Most people don't know this unless you're a diehard comic historian, but he is widely credited with creating the format of the comic book itself. So the story of EC goes all the way back to the very beginning of the industry. So it's just really powerful universal forces of our beloved medium.

Yeah, EC is a foundational block of comics, and I think Oni is one of the best equipped to take something like this on just based on what you've put out and your track record. It's going to be really fun to see you play in this sandbox with all these great voices and artists. I'm excited for that first issue to drop. And being that it's called Epitaphs from the Abyss, I'm curious, how did you come up with that particular title? Was there a lot of brainstorming going on in the office?

Hunter Gorinson: So, here's the sad truth about working in comics, especially when you're working on something high stakes like this, which is you don't sleep much. So there was a very long four to five month period where Sierra indulged me greatly, where I would send her an email. I would wake up, couldn't sleep, and send her an email at 3:30, 3:45 AM, with different EC combinations of words about things that were evocative. Cruel Universe arrived, I think, pretty much fully formed. Cruel Universe, bam. Then with Epitaphs from the Abyss, we tried a different bunch of combinations of horror titles, but we looked at the very first issue of Tales from the Crypt and on it, the primary figure on the cover is literally writing an epitaph. He's chiseling words into a tombstone, and there's something powerful about the notion of epitaph. So what we got to is every tombstone tells a tale. These are the Epitaphs from the Abyss. Hopefully once you get your hands on issue one, it'll make a lot of sense.

Sierra Hahn: We look back to the original material often, especially when it comes to the graphic design elements that we're trying to emulate and modernize. We're very much in conversation with those original books, no doubt.

We've seen some gorgeous covers for the first issue of Epitaphs from the Abyss, where it's really paying homage to the vintage EC Comics, but as far as the interior artwork goes, did you give the artists a lot of creative guidelines where you wanted them to stick to that traditional style, or were you giving them a little more freedom to play around with it?

Sierra Hahn: We want the artists to bring their style into what we're doing, and we don't want to do the nostalgia play necessarily, but we think there are some key elements that were really effective and that really showcase this is an EC Comic, and it's part of how the grid on the page unfolds. It's about having consistent narration. Lettering is a big part of it, but there's a lot of narration. There's a tone and a voice to that narration that's really important.

When we're playing with panel borders, a lot of the EC stuff, instead of having panels turned on its side, they would just kind of do the jaggedy wave around the panel instead of your straight square. How can we utilize some of those things with these contemporary artists to create that mood and create that tone? Having the title integrated onto the first page, that's something that was always done really well in those earlier comics. So there's definitely some of those mandates that we're not going to get every single time, but something that we're trying to weave in there for that consistency and again, forming that relationship with that original material.

Hunter Gorinson: And part of what we've talked about is look, William Gaines is definitely in the conversation with Stan Lee for possibly the greatest comic book editor of all time, just in terms of the caliber of talent that he assembled at EC originally and part of the genius that he brought to it, and he shares this trait with Stan Lee as well, in that he allowed the artist to do their own thing. He didn't force an EC house style, like why Jack Davis draws very different from Graham Ingels, who draws very different from Johnny Craig, who draws very different from Reed Crandall. He allowed the artists to retain their own artistic identities, but what they all shared was a clear through line and power and crispness of storytelling, and it's way easier to draw a 22 or 40-page or 80-page arc of comics than it is to do a crisp, clean six, eight or 10-page story that people are going to talk about for 70 years.

That's a very tall order to do. So, instead of trying to immediately set out to be like, "We've got to get a Jack Davis guy and we've got to get a Graham Ingels guy and a Johnny Craig guy who all draw exactly like the original artists," we don't want to clone the greatest artists of all time. That would just be a poor Xerox of what EC originally was. We've looked at that second part, which is, "Who can do crisp, clear, super powerful storytelling that resonates and makes these things land with punch and panache and shock?" Because one analogy we often use is these short-form stories and the way that you see comics were structured, they're almost like three-minute pop songs. They're like perfect units of entertainment. It can appear deceptively simple, but it's also very complex. So it's a tall order for the artist to interpret and the stuff we've gotten so far is absolutely beautiful. We're really, really proud of it.

That economy of storytelling, where you're trying to deliver everything in a more concise manner as opposed to a full-on graphic novel, that's an art form in itself, for sure.

Hunter Gorinson: Not a lot of room for guitar solos, you know what I mean?

Sierra Hahn: I've found that the writers we're working with really appreciate the challenge, and they're like, "I do have one sentence, one thing I would like to say to the world. How can I now weave that into a six-page narrative?" Some of these stories are like, "Ooh, that makes me very uncomfortable, and it's making me think to sit in that discomfort." We have a story that made all of us tear up at the end and had this amazing emotional impact. Then we have ones that are just like, "That's really funny. I'm having a great time." So everyone's bringing something to it that's going to leave the audience feeling something that they're going to have to sit with. For me, that's the point that I want to hit. That's where I feel like we're going to accomplish something. Did you feel something when you left this? Hopefully it's not anger or disappointment, but something that is forcing you to sit in the narrative a little bit longer and in the experience a little bit longer.

Hunter Gorinson: No one ever did the anthology format better than EC Comics, so that's an integral part, and we thought it was essential to start there. But just to tease, at some point in 2025 as this line continues to mature, we wanted to start in that tried-and-true EC place, but not everything we do will be an anthology going into the future, but it'll still be the core of what EC is, for sure.

Interesting, that is a good tease. I'm just glad to hear that there's plans in 2025 to keep this going. I was curious about that, because you do have this launch of Epitaphs from the Abyss and Cruel Universe, and hopefully the idea is to keep expanding this and keep it growing with more titles if everything goes well.

Hunter Gorinson: Yeah, our full intention is to have at least two titles running concurrently into the foreseeable future. We have a plan that extends two or three years beyond what you guys already know about right now, that's not just going to be horror and science fiction. We're going to open up the tableau into things that EC did previously, other genres as well as genres that EC never really formally did with their own distinct titles. That's part of the fun of this. We don't want to saturate the market with, "Here's 10 books that you have to read all of them." I think it's important to keep the quality high, and as Sierra has noted, it's a heavy lift to make sure that we get these stories right. So that's where our focus is, but there will be an ongoing cadence of these and some curveballs coming down the line, too.

That is really interesting, and of course with EC, in each issue you had these iconic horror hosts like the Crypt-Keeper, the Old Witch, and so many of these ghoulish guides for  these stories. Is that something we can expect, whether it's those familiar faces or new types of characters leading readers through these new stories?

Hunter Gorinson: Shout-out to my favorite horror host, the Old Witch, who has one of the best characters in the history of comics. But yes, the great Dustin Weaver has designed some new, I'll say, possibly horror host, possibly horror hosts, plural, but those are an integral part of the stew of what made the EC horror titles work. So yeah, we're going to have some twisted new faces to reveal, which you'll definitely hear about over the course of this coming summer.

And speaking of summer, July 24th is when the first issue of Epitaphs from the Abyss drops, which lines up with San Diego Comic-Con. Is that something you're planning on celebrating in a big way at Comic-Con?

Hunter Gorinson: Yeah, we'll definitely have some special guests who are working on the new books joining us at San Diego, and we'll definitely have a bunch of EC surprises. Oni has a longstanding presence at San Diego, so it will definitely be part of our activities, as well as I should mention, too, the 20th anniversary of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim, which is also our big showstopper for San Diego Comic-Con this year.

Oh, wow. It's been 20 years already. That is amazing. And with San Diego, I keep thinking of the Crypt-Keeper on the beach with a mixed cocktail. There's a lot of fun in the sun that you can have with EC. Also, you mentioned Cruel Universe, and EC Comics in the ’50s had the atom age and the fear of the bomb and everything that was going on back then, so science was always so integral to a lot of those stories. Was that something that you really wanted to dive into right away, the sci-fi horror and the cosmic elements and outer space, which is also super relevant today? Is there a lot that you are excited for readers to experience with Cruel Universe when they get to open those pages?

Sierra Hahn: Yeah, definitely. Some of those stories are going to tap into a classic sci-fi sensibility in a way and kind of play with some of those tropes. But then we're also going to be talking about what's going on in our modern age with AI, electric cars, driverless cars, and things like that, different advancements in technology and food and how do we get food and why is there a shortage of food? Just different themes that are running through today's society that are big topics of discussion and how they affect how people relate to each other.

Hunter Gorinson: There's a weird parallel, and for some reason, obviously, we never could have planned this, and God knows I wouldn't have wished it on the world, but there's some weird parallel between what American society was going through in the 1950s and the kind of tensions that we're going through right now. This EC formula lens, call it what you will, has proven to be an extremely potent means of examining those in horrific detail. Things that EC stories originally tackled, anxieties about nuclear perforation, et cetera. 20 years ago, that would've been blasé. No one was worried about that. Now we're here in 2024, and suddenly it's a very real concern. So there's some kind of weird synchronicity or connective tissue there that's great for us. It's terrible for the world, unfortunately.

There's some really great stories in Cruel Universe #1. That story that Sierra said is going to make people cry, it literally made both of us cry. I'll give credit where credit is due: it's written by Matt Kindt, who did BRZRKR in addition to 500 other fantastic comic book series. But it's incredible. It was an absolutely visionary sci-fi story that also has a beating heart at the center of it. I will say no more.

That is awesome. It is really cool that there's just so much coming up with Oni. When you announced these titles in addition to reaching out to people, have you had a lot of people approach you as far as wanting to get involved? So many people have been influenced or have memories of growing up with EC Comics or things like Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt, that would not exist without these comics. Has everyone been knocking on the door or is it a combination of reaching out and also having people reach out to you?

Sierra Hahn: Yeah, it's definitely a combination. There have been instances of reaching out to someone and they're like, "I was hoping you'd reach out to me." I'm like, "Why didn't you reach out to me?" But they're waiting because they're shy. And then artists that we're working with who are like, "Oh, hey, I have three friends that hit me up. They want to be part of this." And I'm like, "Bring your friends. I would love for your friends to be part of this." As Hunter said, we have a lot of plans for next year and beyond, and we want to have this consistent stable of writers and artists, but there's so much room to bring more people in to bring these stories to life. We've just been very lucky that EC Comics as a brand, as a name that carries a lot of weight and meaning for people, is such a motivating driving force for people to want to get involved and work with Oni Press for the first time ever as well. That's been really good for us and really exciting to grow our relationships across the industry and to direct market spaces as well.

In addition to EC Comics, Oni Press has so much going on in the creative space. Are there any other things coming out in the next year or coming right around the corner that you both are really excited about, or any original stories that you can tease or that you can give a shout-out to?

Sierra Hahn: Yeah, right now there are three graphic novels that I'm really excited about. There's Dwellings by Jay Stephens, which obviously has some connective tissue with EC. Jay's doing a lot of these great nostalgic variant covers for us. But that book is one of my favorites that we've published in the last year. Very unexpected, something that was entirely new to me and I completely fell in love and have been really inspired by it.

We also have Covenant by LySandra Vuong, who was originally on WEBTOONS. It's still running on WEBTOONS, but we're doing the collections. It's just this fun, high fantasy, queer story that's like a slow burn, but dealing with battling demons and these heaven and hell narratives. It's just pure joy, fun, entertainment, and beautifully drawn. LySandra is just an incredible partner to work with.

And then Hobtown Mystery Stories, which is also one of my favorites that we're going to be publishing different volumes of in the years ahead. It's kind of a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys narrative. It takes place in Canada but has this very dark, menacing, quiet small-town feel to it like a Twin Peaks meets Nancy Drew sort of storytelling sensibility. But it's some of the most entertaining, thoughtful writing of young people engaging with their community and this off-kilter world that they inhabit that I just absolutely love. They were previously published in black and white, the first two volumes, and we're doing them in full color. They just look absolutely beautiful. So those are all available right now and some of my favorite things coming out this year.

Hunter Gorinson: I'll throw a couple in, which is just to say we have a really strong crop of comics both coming out now and coming later this year. Shout-out to Cemetery Kids Don't Die by Zac Thompson and Daniel Irizarri. There's a book, Akogun: Brutalizer of Gods, which is a West African fantasy book, essentially what if Conan met Black Panther, by two phenomenally talented West African creators named Dotun Akande and Murewa Ayodele. And then in regards to EC, keep an eye on the creators who are contributing to those books because we have some creator-owned projects that'll likely spin out of those pages over the course of the next six months to a year.


Press Release: PORTLAND, OR – From the publisher that drove Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, and many more into the depraved hearts of an unsuspecting world, the immortal EC COMICS returns on July 24th with its first BOLD AND BLOODY NEW series in nearly 70 years! In partnership with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc., Oni Press is proud to reveal the complete line-up of “all-killer” writers, artists, and cover artists behind EPITAPHS FROM THE ABYSS #1 – a 40-page testament to terror ushering in the full-scale resurrection of comics’ most infamous and influential publishing house…

In our first extra-sized, 40-page dose of fear, witness shocking tales of torment and tension in the immortal EC tradition—as wrenched from the grave by the vile intentions of acclaimed writers Brian Azzarello (Batman: Damned, 100 Bullets), Chris Condon (That Texas Blood, Night People), J. Holtham (Night Thrasher, Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale), and Stephanie Phillips (Harley Quinn, Grim) and realized into bloody reality by “all-slaughter” artists Jorge Fornes (Rorschach, Danger Street), Phil Hester (Family Tree), Peter Krause (Irredeemable), and Vlad Legostaev (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

“Due to the nature of my stories, I've been asked about EC Comics since I started in this industry,” said multiple Eisner Award winner Brian Azzarello. “Frederick Wertham and his asinine comics code knee-capped us. Thank God — or my grandmother, who didn't throw out my father's comics -— that I was able to discover EC in an attic I was forbidden to go in. That subsequent downward spiral has led me to where I am now.”

“I can't imagine a better time for EC Comics to come back into the world,” said writer J. Holtham. “They've always been great at skewering (literally) the worst people in the world. We have a lot of folks who could use a good skewering. And then some.”

“As a reader, I am thrilled EC Comics is returning because the present world is beyond ripe for their brand of subversive horror stories,” said writer Stephanie Phillips. “As a writer, I could not be more excited to carry the legacy of those subversive horror stories into this terrifying world.”

“Every short story that I write, I write with EC Comics in mind,” said writer Chris Condon, “It doesn't matter what company it's for or what the story is, it's the stories of Jack Davis, Al Feldstein, Joe Orlando, and the entire EC lineup that I look back to for guidance. The stories that EC Comics published were revolutionary—violent, tragic, hilarious, and timely. They pushed boundaries like no one else dared to, revolutionizing the comics medium into a truly transgressive art form. EC Comics was born in the fraught post-war years of the 20th century and it's only right that in our tense age of uncertainty that EC Comics returns with the same gleefully deranged energy of its early incarnation. It's just what the doctor--the one in the blood-stained scrubs holding a rusty butcher knife precariously over his patient's head--ordered.”

What the Comics Code Authority couldn’t kill has only made it stronger… EC Comics enters the 21st century with a jugular-pounding horror milestone that not only features four self-contained exercises in adrenaline from Brian Azzarello & Vlad Legostaev, Chris Condon & Peter Krause, J. Holtham & Jorge Fornes, and Stephanie Phillips & Phil Hester, and more — but also the first glimpse of EC’s new cast of horror hosts…and a razor-sharp gallery of covers inspired by the eternal artistry of the EC’s infernal legacy with talents including Lee Bermejo (Batman: Damned, A Vicious Circle), Andrea Sorrentino (Gideon Falls, Batman: The Imposter) with Dave Stewart (Hellboy), Jay Stephens (Dwellings), Rian Hughes (The Multiversity), and Dustin Weaver (Avengers, Paklis):

IN 2024, EC COMICS LIVE AGAIN! This summer, four-color fear infects a new generation in EPITAPHS FROM THE ABYSS #1 – coming to comic shops everywhere on July 24th! Then, in August: The next shocking chapter in EC’s long-awaiting resurrection continues in CRUEL UNIVERSE #1 – 40 all-new pages of cosmic oblivion, atomic entropy, and galactic annihilation featuring a star-spanning cast of talents soon to be revealed.

For more information, visit Oni Press online at OniPress.com.






Gold Foil Variant by LEE BERMEJO


EC Homage Variant (1:10) by JAY STEPHENS

B&W Artist Edition Variant (1:20) by ANDREA SORRENTINO with RIAN HUGHES

EC Archive Variant (1:50) by RIAN HUGHES

Horror Host Variant (1:100) by DUSTIN WEAVER

Blank Cover Also Available

$4.99 (STANDARD) | $7.99 (FOIL) | 40 PAGES | FULL COLOR | ON SALE JULY 24, 2024

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.